War time bride celebrates century

04 Mar 2020

Great grandma to eight, Betty Shapiro, who sorted maps in the government stationary department during the war, recently celebrated her 100th birthday.

Now a resident at Jewish Care’s Clore Manor home, Betty was born in Central London before moving to Brixton, Manor House and then Stanmore, two years ago.

Betty was married on 8th December 1940 at the start of the Blitz. She recalls, “The air raid sirens sounded just as our wedding ceremony finished so all the guests headed to the shelters and Harry and I, along with our parents headed home to enjoy their wedding lunch minus all their guests.

“As the war progressed and Harry went off to serve in the army, and I began working at the government stationary department sorting maps as part of the war effort. All the work was of course top secret due to the nature of the job.”

The work was carried out in an underground bunker near to the Tower of London, not far from where Betty was born. Eventually, working underground took its toll on Betty’s health and her asthma, the doctor advised she should stop working there and Betty returned to being a seamstress and making dresses.

Born 6 February 1920, Betty was pleased to receive a card from Her Majesty The Queen on her birthday and be joined by her family from the UK and Israel at Clore Manor for a tea amongst other birthday celebrations. As well as being great grandma to eight great grandchildren, Betty is grandma to four grandchildren and mum of Pauline Sholem and Brian Shapiro,

Betty says she enjoys reading books and has just started a new one. She also likes watching old black and white films, playing kalooki and listening to gentle, quiet music like Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra.

After her birthday celebrations, Betty says, “It was really lovely to see my children, grandchildren and also my great grandchildren from Israel again. I’m not one to like a fuss but it was beautiful.  Both celebrations were very special and I thank everyone who put in all the time and effort."

Though Betty has no secret for long life, her advice to young people is “Be kind to people and they’ll be kind to you.”

Betty’s daughter, Pauline adds, “We’re thrilled that Mum reached this great age.”